There are a lot of healthy food blogs out there touting specialized or expensive food products to help you stay healthy and fit. You don’t need to purchase anything special for good health however. Just eating a variety of nutritious food from each food group can provide your body what it needs to build and maintain lean muscles and stay healthy. What you do need is balance and variety.
For instance, it doesn’t matter if you consume that “super food” or “super juice” daily if you forget to drink your milk or eat foods that provide calcium, because your bone health will suffer even if your mind is staying sharp.
The focus of this post is to help you choose cheap healthy food to keep your body looking and feeling its best. So here are my top 5 healthy foods to stock your kitchen with:
1. Milk or Milk Substitutes
I know it’s hard to believe, but plain old milk is very nutritious. Milk provides calcium and protein – both of which are important for keeping your bones and muscles strong. It is also fortified with vitamin D, which helps you absorb calcium, plays a role in muscle strength, and even helps keeps your immune system strong.
Most people need 3 cups per day. If you can’t drink milk, it’s important to get calcium from other sources such as a calcium-fortified milk substitute, like almond or soy milk. Even foods like cheese or yogurt, which are lower in lactose than milk can often be tolerated when milk isn’t. If your milk substitute doesn’t contain vitamin D, it’s probably best to take a supplement containing 800-1000 IU per day.
2. Fruits Such as Apples, Oranges and Bananas
You can eat more exotic fruit if you choose, but simple cheap everyday fruits do the trick too. Most people need about a cup a day of fruit or 100% fruit juice, or ½ cup of dried fruit.
Fruit provides vitamin C, important for your immune system and healthy skin. Fruits like bananas and oranges are also rich in potassium, a mineral that’s important for muscles, the heart and the nervous system.
3. Dark Leafy Green Vegetables
Romaine lettuce and spinach are rich in folate, the natural form of folic acid. Folate plays a big role in heart health throughout life, and helps prevent neural tube defects and cleft palate in babies; so pregnant women should be especially diligent about eating these nutrient power-houses regularly.
But it’s not just dark leafy green vegetables that you need to stock up on – all vegetables play a big role in health and fitness. Most adults need to consume 2½ cups of raw or cooked vegetables per day and should choose a variety of colors. Remember that a cup of green leafy vegetables only counts as a ½-cup towards your daily goal, due to the volume of air when measuring.
4. 100% Whole-Wheat Bread
As long as you don’t have Celiac disease or any wheat allergies, you should eat 100% whole grain wheat bread. Although slightly higher priced than processed white bread, it’s well worth the money.
Manufacturers do fortify refined flours with a few of the nutrients found in whole grain wheat, but it’s like giving the manufacturer $20 worth of nutrients and getting back $1 in nutrients. Whole grain bread, as well as other 100% whole grains like brown rice, are rich in B vitamins and insoluble fiber, which acts as a like a broom going down your digestive track cleaning out the yuck.
Don’t just buy brown bread that says wheat bread, which is just a marketing ploy trying to sell you processed and refined bread with a little brown coloring added; instead, turn the loaf over and read the label. The first ingredient listed should say 100% whole wheat. Most people need 6 servings per day of whole grains.
5. Red Meat
Animal products such as meat, eggs and milk provide the most biologically available protein for your body. Protein helps you build muscles, which in turn burn more calories, keeping you not only stronger but leaner as well.
Red meat such as beef provides the most absorbable form of iron, which helps your blood carry oxygen throughout your body, giving you energy. If you’ve ever had iron-deficiency anemia, you know how tired that can make you feel.
Combining red meat with citrus or foods with acidity increases iron absorption – providing another argument for the importance of eating a balanced diet rather than just concentrating on “super foods.” Most people need about 5½ ounces per day of protein.
Remember that eating good nutritious food is where good health starts. Although enjoying some super foods and including a delicious Total Gym FIT BLAST Shake can be a part of a good nutrition, it’s just as important to remember that good health has to start in the kitchen with good healthy food choices that feed every part of your body. Protein shakes and FIT BLAST protein are a convenient way to supplement your nutrition and provide a good source of extra protein for building lean muscles, especially when you’re on the run.
For more information on how many servings of each food group you need to eat each day, check out www.choosemyplate.gov. For a free daily checklist, go to www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate-Daily-Checklist.
The opinions shared in this article are those of the contributor and not Total Gym Direct.